Is it appropriate to put anti-perspirant EVERYWHERE on your body? I think to myself as the three of us stand at the bus station in Bangkok. I tried as best as I could to ignore the beads of sweat accumulating everywhere on my body. As the three of us stood around our luggage, I looked on to the young men loading the buses with boxes. I wondered if my eyes were deceiving me, or if these young men were we actually wearing jackets. They were. They were barely sweating, too. The best I could do at that point was to try and think about anything but the heat and humidity and hassle of Bangkok.
Let me start from the beginning, before I get ahead of myself. Arriving in Bangkok was relatively easy. Morgan and I (Rachael B.) flew out of Seattle, while Rachel P. flew out of LA. We met up in the Taipei airport. Since the Seattle flight arrived a few hours before Rachel’s, Morgan and I hung out in one of the Taipei airport’s themed waiting lounges. This one was postal themed
After couple of hours, we were on our way to Bangkok.
In Bangkok, we headed to a hotel called “Novotel,” which is apparently rated the 5th nicest airport hotel in the world. In any case, the room we had for the day was a single.
A SINGLE. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS BED. Is there a such thing as a double King? You could easily (and comfortably) sleep four people on here.
After dropping off our stuff, we needed to go shopping for a few misc. things, such as a towel, a travel power converter, a sim card for a cellphone, and a new suitcase (a wheel fell off mine in transit–oops). A 350 baht cab ride brought us to one of the most terrifying places I have ever been: Siam Paragon, the shopping plaza.
Here’s a picture, since I was too scared to pull out my own camera:
Anyone who knows me well can attest to my tendency to avoid malls at all costs. This mall was like Mall of America on steroids. I knew that as soon as the 7 story building did not have anything that we needed at a decent price (my first warning should have been the fact that there were multiple buildings), that this place and I were not going to get along. I know that Morgan and Rachel shared the same sentiment. After an hour of two of hopping from building to building and store to store, we headed for the train to go back to the hotel.
After a much cheaper (and equally as fast) ride to the hotel, we needed to grab our luggage, go to the Northern bus terminal, and catch our 9 pm bus to Mae Sot. We asked the concierge to call the bus station and make sure there were still tickets available, but after she got off the phone with them (5+ minutes) she told us there were no tickets available for that bus. She added that if we went to the ticket station, there might be tickets available. We were really confused by her answer but figured it was best to go for it and hope we could find a ride to Mae Sot.
Shortly after catching a cab heading to the northern bus terminal, our meter began sputtering. Uh oh. My experiences with taxis are limited, but I knew that it wasn’t a good sign when the meter turned off and our cab driver began bargaining with us (You go to bus station? I take you for 450 baht flat charge. I take you to Chiang Mai for 10,000 Baht. You want?). Shortly after, our cab pulled over next to a tiny median on the freeway and said in a very unapologetic tone, “Sorry, my car cannot take you anymore.” We sat in the back and stared in disbelief as our cab driver got out and popped the hood on the car.
Soon after, though, a cab was hailed for us and our new driver decided to bargain with us too. You go to Chiang Mai? I take you there. Go to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai. We shook our heads and insisted, “bus station,” and Rachel and I dozed off in the back until we arrived.
Luckily, we arrived at the bus station and were able to get tickets for the 9 pm bus to Mae Sot. We ushered our stuff into the station and found our departing area. We hadn’t eaten any food that day (it was quite hectic, to say the least) and the food in the bus station was rather oily and greasy. Everything was in Thai so we didn’t know what we would be ordering and the only food with an English menu was a KFC, so we settled on granola bars and fruit from a stand.
At about 4:30 am during the bus ride, we suddenly stopped and TAK Province immigration workers got on the bus and checked out passports. It was rather frightening when the bus lights suddenly switched on and everyone straightened themselves out in their seats, but the officials just looked at our passports and left us alone. One questioned me about how long we were staying, but I’m pretty sure it was just out of curiosity. They did take a few people off the bus and didn’t let them get back on, and we were thankful that we weren’t one of them.
We arrived at 5 am (an hour and a half early) so we got to hang out in the Mae Sot bus station for a bit until a taxi driver from BWU picked us up. After arriving at BWU and being greeted by Zin Zin and May, the three of us decided to nap until about 10:30. The rest was much needed.
After a lunch meeting (with delicious Burmese dishes prepared in a jiffy by the staff) with BWU, the three of us headed to the market to buy breakfast items, a towel, and some other stuff. It was our first time on motorbikes (!!!) and it turned out to be a really enjoyable ride (at least for me!). The market is a very interesting place, and you can definitely see the variety of cultures that come together at the border.
This afternoon, we’ve been preparing for English lessons tomorrow, blogging, and trying to escape the heat. Rachel showered earlier, and Morgan and I are on shower number two. Shower is a loose term here, because we “shower” by pouring water over our heads using a bucket. But it’s cold, and it feels great so no complaints.
Admittedly, we were a little confused on how to use the toilet too. Actually, one of our first conversations with Zin Zin was how to flush the toilet. There is no tank or handle. The toilet is literally a bowl and a seat. We had a hunch that pouring some water in the bowl would make it “flush,” and an awkward first conversation confirmed that hunch and made great first impressions, I am sure. Silly Americans. 🙂
Well, it is 7:30 pm and Zin Zin and May (the other two interns who we are living with at the office) are cooking dinner. It smells delicious. All of our feet are mysteriously blimp-sized, so we’re about to sign off and figure out how to restore our feet to normal size. Our internet sometimes does not work, but we’ll be updating again when we can.
Tata! (goodbye in Burmese)
Rachael B, Morgan, and Rachel P